London: Students mulling admissions in UK universities should divert their routes and look elsewhere to pursue higher studies. If an audit report is to be believed, then several British universities are likely to collapse due to deep public funding cuts announced by the David Cameron government.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said in a report that the new funding framework, coupled with the squeeze in public funding, is likely to increase the level of risk within the sector.

The NAO report says, "While there are a number of financially strong institutions, there is wide variation in institutions' financial performance.

The transition and the new environment itself will increase the risk within the sector, potentially raising the number of institutions at high risk of failing".

The report does not name the universities at risk, but a British newspaper mentioned Thames Valley and London Metropolitan universities as being among the institutions likely to collapse due to the funding cuts.

The NAO found that seven universities face imminent closure, 11 have been in the red for more than two years and 43 of the 129 universities have raised serious concerns about their finances.

Universities have been grappling with funding cuts by cutting academic jobs and closing departments that do not attract the cost-effective number of students.

The government has announced major cuts for Arts and Humanities subjects, but will continue funding for Science subjects.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the House of Commons public accounts committee, said students deserved to know if the university they choose was at risk, "particularly in the brave new world where the student holds the purse strings".

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said the NAO report showed the consequences of higher fees and reduced public funds.

She said: "While there might be a handful of winners, many institutions will struggle to cope financially with the new regime.

If the government is happy for some universities to go to the wall, then it should be upfront about it."

(Agencies)